With the resurrection of the pop punk genre, we've been reminiscing about the amazing, edgy artists who captivated us in the early 2000s. With her engagement having been announced back in April – as well as headlining appearances scheduled for the iHeartRadio Festival and the highly-anticipated When We Were Young Festival – we can't help but think about Avril Lavigne.
The Canadian pop punk princess strutted onto the music scene in the late 90s and exploded throughout the aughts. A posterchild for tomboys during the era, Lavigne's music is loud, proud, fun, and tastefully raunchy. At the same time, Avril hasn't been afraid to bring all the emotions into her tracks, too. It's this mix of moxie and moodiness that has made her a patron saint for many current acts – including Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Yungblood, Rina Sawayama, 5 Seconds of Summer, Willow Smith, Charli XCX, and many more.
Avril is still making music today. This year, she released the album Love Sux and it's just as cool as the stuff she released when she was a teenager. We're very proud to have lived through Avril Lavigne's rise, so we're honoring her with a Top 10 list of her greatest hits. See which beloved tracks of hers – old and new – have made the cut below!
10. "Bite Me"
The most commercially successful track off Love Sux, "Bite Me" is a throwback to the smooth and crunchy guitar sounds of early 2000s punk jams. The song features a star-studded cast of songwriters and producers including genre-bending EDM/pop producer Marshmello, blink-182 drummer Travis Barker (who appears in the song's video), and Omer Fedi. It was released on November 10, 2021 and is Avril's first single on Barker’s record label, DTA Records.
On the song's lyrics, Avril told Kevan Kenney of Audacy, "It’s a song about self worth and really just standing up for yourself and just being like, 'You know what, you didn’t treat me right, you didn’t treat me well, and that doesn’t work for me. So baby, you can bite me.'” Avril's spunk is what sells this nostalgic song. It's also funny listening to the "wifey" line knowing Lavigne is recently engaged.
9. "What the Hell"
This was a Lavigne song that leaned more towards the pop side than the punk. After all, it was released in 2011 – when mainstream music tastes were changing. Still, "What the Hell" is joyous, liberating, and extremely catchy.
"What the Hell" was released as part of Avril's fourth album, Goodbye Lullaby. The track is simply a broad message about personal freedom, but when we listen to those sky-high synth keys and Avril's belting on the chorus, we can't help but feel as wild as she feels while stealing the taxi in the music video.
8. "Nobody's Home"
"Nobody’s Home" is a somber song from Avril's second album Under My Skin. The track features Daniel Stern on guitar and was produced by Don Gilmore and written by Lavigne and Ben Moody: former Evanescence guitarist and Lavigne’s then-current good friend.
Lyrically, the song talks about a depressed girl and all of the problems torturing her mind. She's "lost inside". Avril has claimed the song was inspired by a friend she knew from high school, who was “on the wrong way." This is a song we feel Avril does best live, and is just one of the many emo bops you can cry to on Under My Skin.
7. "Don't Tell Me"
Also from Under My Skin, we have the song "Don't Tell Me" at #7. This was released as the lead single for the album and peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100. We love how the pacing of this song takes its time, yet "Don't Tell Me" has the same amount of edginess as one of Avril's faster tracks.
The song was written when Avril was 17, just coming out of high school. You can definitely hear that raw teen angst within her vocal performance and the guitar riffs in the chorus. Lavigne told MTV the song is "about being strong. There are a lot of guys out there who just want to take you out to dinner and then, like basically go home and ‘unhh’ you. That’s what a lot of guys are like and I just think girls need to be strong and not let any guy pressure them into doing anything."
6. "When You're Gone"
We think this melancholy ballad is one of Avril's best. “When You’re Gone” is the fifth track from Avril Lavigne’s third studio album The Best Damn Thing. She's stated it's very personal to her, yet the lyrics feel so universal. As shown by the music video, the song's message can apply to a variety of situations.
"When You're Gone" feels like an outlier on Lavigne's catalogue, but it totally works. We love how it relies more on acoustics, piano keys, and strings as opposed to her usual rockin' instrumentation. Also Avril's belting on the bridge? Wow. Just wow.
5. "I'm With You"
Oh how much we love to shout "it's a damn cooooooold night!!!" at the top of our lungs whenever we listen to "I'm With You." This fan favorite track is off Lavigne's classic debut album Let Go. It's another chilling ballad describing Avril’s feelings of loneliness and wishes for a helping hand in her time of need.
"I'm With You" was Lavigne's first ballad issued as a single and turned out to be one of her biggest hits from Let Go. It reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became her third Top 10 single...the other two are below!
4. "My Happy Ending"
The most well-known track from Under My Skin, "My Happy Ending" is a heartbreak song with heavy electric guitar edge. It's all about the pain of remembering the good times while going through a bad breakup. We're a sucker for those loud drums, wailing guitars, and Avril's soaring notes in the emotional bridge.
Despite Avril having a not-so-happy ending in this song, the commercial success of this track was like something out of a fairytale. "My Happy Ending" peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 chart in 2004. It was eventually certified Gold by the RIAA.
Listen, folks: there is nothing in this world like going through an unrequited love – an unrequited love where you know your person is with someone else who isn't good for them – and just blasting "Girlfriend" loud and proud while you're coping alone in your bedroom. It's on par with Joan Jett's "Reputation" when it comes to brash, unapologetic girl anthems.
The lyrics of "Girlfriend" are the things we wish we could say to our crushes but can't. It's rude, it's raunchy, and it's devilish...and that's what makes it so relatable. And cathartic. And oh-so beloved. It's no wonder Lavigne wrote this while drunk. She didn't realize until waking up and seeing it the next morning that she had a hit.
The song and video have broken numerous records since their releases. The track debuted at #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, which is the highest debut of Lavigne's career, and later topped the chart. The song eventually topped the charts in eight countries. Additionally, the iconic music video – which sees Avril play dorky and raven-haired versions of herself – was for a time the most-viewed video on YouTube!
2. "Sk8er Boi"
He was a boy, she was a girl...can we make it any more obvious? Of course "Sk8er Boi" ranks high on our list! Surprisingly, this beloved song did not perform as strong commercially as Lavigne’s previous single from Let Go (we'll get to that in a minute), but still peaked at #10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Legacy-wise, this song has done very well in Lavigne's discography, and there's even talks of turning it into a movie someday.
"Sk8er Boi" tells the story of a girl who rejects a skater boy despite crushing on him because she is too concerned about her friends' opinions. As we learn from Avril, she eventually regrets making the decision as the skater boy grows up to become a famous musician and she lives a humdrum life as a single mother. Additionally, it's revealed that Avril, the narrator of the song, is now dating the skater boy!
What makes "Sk8er Boi" so good is its storytelling aspect, the whiplashing music production, and the song's overall message about following your dreams instead of worrying about what other people think. Peer pressure is no good, and its vices are a common theme in Avril's music. It's also a theme in our #1 song...
Yes – this was Avril's breakout song, her most commercially successful hit off Let Go, and a track that held the top spot on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart for 16 weeks in a row and reached the #2 spot on the Hot 100. We believe "Complicated" is the thesis statement of what Avril Lavigne is all about, and we have fond memories of replaying this song over and over as kids.
"Complicated" sees Avril addressing a friend who is relaxed and happy around her, but acts like a completely different person around others. It's basically Lavigne rejecting "fakeness" and embracing the inner peace that comes with being yourself. There's also a dreamy tone to the otherwise grungy music production. It reminds us of afternoon days with friends after school, when everyone was chill and ready to have a good time at the mall, or skate park, or wherever kids hung out in the early 2000s.
Additionally, the memorable music video – Avril's first – is what led to her signature black eyeliner look that eventually became a big trend in the early 2000s. She told MTV News, "I think it was my first time having a makeup artist, and so I was like, “I would like to do black eyes,” and like she put a little bit on, and I was like, “No, no no. Like, more. Like, black eyes. like go nuts.” And it was just like over and over and over, and then I had the black-eye look and I kind of haven’t changed."
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